Growing Awareness - no boring salads!
Welcome to the latest news-post with our Head Gardener Bryony Middleton
Here she writes about the work we do in Sharpham's organic gardens, offering suggestions that you can use in your own gardens too.
Salad Days and Summer Flavour
While the seasons take their course and the weather provides constant joys (and challenges), one thing that will be grown throughout the year in the Walled Garden at Sharpham is an ever-evolving supply of delicious salad leaves.
Our propagation benches are full of seedlings, ready to venture out into the beds we have freshly prepared with help from our wonderful Tuesday volunteers
Keeping an interesting salad mix is important: a careful balancing-act of flavours, textures, colours and different shaped leaves to appease the eye and taste buds too.
Lettuces provide the backbone to the summer salad taking over from the brassica and chicory domination in the colder months. We are growing a number of different types of lettuce, including Little Gem, Red and Green Oak Leaf, Salad Bowl varieties and some frilly ones too.
These will be topped by a plethora of treasures, including spiralling pea shoots, the cucumbery bitter tang of Salad Burnett, crisp Summer Purslane, deep purple Orache and Amaranth, bold pink-tipped Magenta Spreen, Rocket, baby Chard leaves and some spicy mustards.
Then come the edible flowers; the icing on the cake, which no summer salad should really be without! Edible flowers we will include are violas, calendula, many shades of spicy nasturtiums and borage, with its picturesque blue star-shaped flowers (right). These flowers, especially Borage, are favourites among the bees and other helpful pollinators that swarm around from early in the morning getting a buzz out of the sweet nectar.
The journey of flavour in the salad mix changes a lot with the seasons, from the lush, fresh and fragrant leaves in the summer to the spicy, hot and bitter leaves that withstand colder temperatures in the winter. So wherever you’ve got to this year with your garden, it’s never too late to sow some leaves. We always start these off in modules in the glasshouse to avoid slugs and snails nipping off the young shoots before they are established.
There is really no excuse for boring salads! Happy planting!
Find out more about Sharpham's gardens here